Returning Individual Research Results in International Direct-To-Participant Genomic Research: Results from a 31-Country Study
European Journal of Human Genetics, 2022
Posted: 19 May 2022
Date Written: April 28, 2022
This paper summarizes the results of a 31-country qualitative study of expert perspectives on the regulation of international “direct-to-participant” (DTP) genomic research. We outline how the practice of directly recruiting participants for genomic studies online complicates ethics and regulatory considerations for the return of individual research results. As part of a larger project supported by the National Human Genome Research Institute, National Institutes of Health, we prepared and distributed to 31 global legal experts a questionnaire intended to ascertain opinions and perspectives on the way international DTP genomic research is likely to be regulated. We found significant disagreement across jurisdictions on the most favorable approach to managing such results, with some countries favoring return by default and others preferring to return only with the express consent of research participants. We conclude by outlining policy considerations that should guide researcher practices in this context. As international DTP genomic research evolves, jurists and ethicists should be attentive to the ways novel approaches to subject recruitment align with existing ethical and regulatory norms in research with human participants. This paper is a preliminary step toward documenting such alignment in the context of the return of individual research results.
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